An Independent School • Grades 5-12

At Commencement 2022, two transformative members of the Lakeside community received the Willard J. Wright ’32 Distinguished Service Award: Zinda Foster and Bernie Noe.

The Lakeside Board of Trustees gives this award to those who have rendered extraordinary service to the school—revered teachers, heads of school, exceptional staff, and trustees whose work was transforming for Lakeside.

Carey Crutcher ’77 Smith, the chair of Lakeside’s Board of Trustees, read the following citations.

Zinda Foster

For the past 20 years Zinda Foster has run the Lakeside School Upper School Service Learning program with grace, intelligence, firmness, and a commitment to teaching our students the importance of helping those in our society who can use a little extra help. Zinda has guided our students to service opportunities that she thought would best suit their interests while at the same time make the most of their gifts.

In her early days at Lakeside, Zinda, along with T.J. Vassar, ran the LEEP program. In the words of Jamie Asaka ’96, T.J. was the godfather and Zinda the godmother of that program, and they created an environment of love, community, and deep learning for all students. As a native of the Central District (CD) and a student at Garfield High School, Zinda remains deeply connected to her community in the CD as well as to her church, First AME. She has been equally connected and committed to Lakeside. A fierce advocate for the educational opportunities Lakeside could provide, Zinda connected Black families to Lakeside and then looked after those students once they arrived on campus. In addition to bringing students to Lakeside, she frequented the halls of Garfield, Franklin, and others to check up on LEEPers and stopped by Washington, Meany, and Mercer to recruit new LEEP kids for the coming summer. She has been a true connector and bridge builder!

Zinda’s office is always filled with students who are seeking her advice or just want a quiet place to study. She loves them and holds them to a high standard of excellence in all that they do. She wants to develop good people, not just successful students. Jamie, whose office is adjacent to Zinda’s, also describes a constant stream of students going in and out of Zinda’s office for a snack, some tough love, support, a nap, to cry, or to share their excitement. Colleagues are in and out of her office as well, both for laughs and for advice. Parents and guardians trust her too. Zinda has impacted the lives of thousands of Lakeside students and adults.

In her years at Lakeside, Zinda has also coached, worked in admissions, and was part of the former Upper School student life department. She has been an outstanding advisor, led Outdoor Program and Global Service Learning trips, and started our Upper School student center. This last role she took on just four years ago, and in four short years she established a healthy and inclusive atmosphere in the student center and created a space where all students, from all grades, are welcome to relax.

There is no one who deserves this award more than Zinda Foster. She is a woman of faith and service who embodies our mission and has served the school for over two decades.

For outstanding service to Lakeside School, the Lakeside Board of Trustees today honors Zinda Foster with the Willard J. Wright ’32 Distinguished Service Award.

Bernie Noe

With deep gratitude for his transformative leadership, the Lakeside Board of Trustees honors Bernard “Bernie” Noe with the Willard J. Wright ’32 Distinguished Service Award.

Bernie arrived at Lakeside in 1999, thinking big. His vision was for an academically excellent, globally attuned school serving students from all walks, not just the privileged, and contributing good beyond campus borders. In his 23 years at the helm, he has amply realized that vision.

Bernie guided Lakeside to become future-focused, to prepare students for a fast-changing world. “Bold and doable,” as he named one initiative, defined his ideas: innovative, but not pipe dreams, achievable with the right leadership. In 2003, he convened a community-wide Mission Focus group, which, through consensus, established three pillars for the mission: academic excellence, diversity, and global citizenship. These formed the enduring foundation for his hallmark endeavors:

  • Ongoing updating of curriculum and teaching methods, beginning with adding non-European languages and literature and a laptop program; and most recently, re-envisioning of the competencies and mindsets students need to thrive. Bernie made tough decisions along the way to establish a faculty culture that enthusiastically embraced the mission pillars.
  • Building on T.J. Vassar’s work, Bernie furthered Lakeside’s diversity. A majority of students identify as people of color and a third receive financial aid, which expanded to cover everything Lakeside offers, including overseas trips. He has worked this year to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of the school’s priorities.
  • Begun in 2005, Global Service Learning became a Lakeside signature program. Students perform service and live with families in developing countries, with younger students serving in Northwest communities.
  • Bernie’s influence doesn’t stop there: Lakeside Summer School, open to non-Lakesiders; Global Online Academy, with 120 schools in 30 countries joining Lakeside; expansion of Lakeside Educational Enrichment Program, serving public school students; and The Downtown School, a lower-cost, centrally located, no-frills model. Bernie continually sought ways to provide a Lakeside-quality education to more students.

These successful programs, along with Bernie’s service on the board of the National Association of Independent Schools, including as president, all raised Lakeside’s national profile.

Bernie also directed campus improvements, most notably construction of The Paul G. Allen Athletics Center and major renovations of Bliss Hall and Allen-Gates Hall.

To pay for all this, Bernie contributed fearless fundraising. Lakeside Campaign: Living Our Mission, raised $135.6 million. Lakeside’s endowment was $39 million in 1999, and in late 2021, had grown to $308 million.

Students were always Bernie’s North Star. He stayed attuned by leading an advisory group, teaching his popular genocide class, and meeting regularly with student groups. The quintessential servant leader, Bernie instilled in students that those lucky enough to get a Lakeside education justify that privilege by doing good in the world. A recent alumni survey showed they took that to heart.

With profound appreciation for his extraordinary commitment to the school, Lakeside trustees today honor Bernie Noe with the Willard J. Wright ’32 Distinguished Service Award